Digital Interview-What to Expect?

This is the new version of the Alaska Teacher Placement (ATP) forum for teachers, education majors, and school administrators to discuss working and living in the state of Alaska. Those considering an Alaskan job, or considering a new Alaskan education job ask questions, and those with information and/or opinions provide answers. Although many users are teacher or principal candidates from the Lower 48, a large number of current and former school district HR and school administrators subscribe.

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Digital Interview-What to Expect?

Postby ShannonPrescott » Tue Jan 14, 2020 10:02 pm

I have been sent an email for a digital interview for a school district. The email came within minutes after I submitted so I assume it is standard procedure. Does anybody have any anecdotal experience or thoughts on what to expect? I read the accompanying information. I am just really nervous, I am much better in-person. Thank you.
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Re: Digital Interview-What to Expect?

Postby Johncn » Sat Jan 18, 2020 6:27 am

Hi Shannon,

I've personally done quite a number of these, but always on the hiring side, not the applicant side. I also have a wee bit of experience in using and designing two-way video conferencing sessions. But, I don't know the format or technology you are using for your upcoming interview. Others may have more recent experience or have done similar online interviews for Alaska districts, and will hopefully put in their two cents.

When I've done these, there is usually an interview sheet I've been using to guide the session. I have tried make it more conversational than formal when not pressed for time, but followed the rough outline of the interview our district used that year. Others may be very structured. It's hard to know, and could be district specific, or somewhat up to the interviewer or team. It would be nice to know, if possible, whether you are "meeting" with a one-on-one interview or a team in advance.

Here are some general tips that may be helpful in a virtual interview by video and audio:

1) Get to know the technology to be used at least a little. You don't want it to be a distraction.

Could be Skype, Facetime, WhatsApp, WeChat, Viber, Telegram or something new. If this means you have to download new software, do so AT LEAST a day or two ahead of the event (if possible). Test with a friend or two. Make sure the video works, and audio from your end is clear and easy to mute. You should mute be between turns to talk. If using Bluetooth headset or whatever, get used to it. Very important to test this on the same network (wifi or home or school connection) to ensure you won't have unexpected issues with port blocking, security settings or network permissions. Make sure you know what you will be seeing, and what the other end will see....sometimes the screen changes with audio switching (automatically focusing on whoever is speaking), but there may other options for keeping a small preview box of yourself on the side, or a "Hollywood Squares" setting if it is a group interview.

2) Get a good, suitable spot you are somewhat comfortable in.

Above all, don't use a window or other "backlit" or a busy background. A window, for instance, may be a nice view, but nobody will be able to see you. Try to get a neutral background that appears neutral and/or professional. If a classroom, that's great...make it look like a interesting and active one! If in a home or other setting, make sure it private and without interruption or pets. Sometimes built in microphones will pick up lots of ambient noise. Make sure your setting doesn't have any annoying or distracting background noises you may be used to. ;-)

3) Look and act the part.

Dress and act like a relaxed professional. Sit a medium distance from the camera so that your face is not the entire screen. If it is a computer on a desk, make sure you can be seen from, roughly, the waist up, as body language is important for context and setting an impression. Try to relax. Take cues with the greeting, but make it polite and professional. Maybe a, "Pleased to meet you. Thanks for setting this up." Don't fidget. Look your CAMERA in the eye. Lots of times the camera is off center or external, and the person looks at the computer screen instead of at the camera itself...which can be unsettling on the other end. Mute between responses, but be able to reach the control or keyboard to make that happen without looking awkward. If you tend to ramble when nervous (some people do), try flipping a two-minute egg timer (off screen) each time you start to answer - You know, the little sand egg timers from the Dollar Store?), and just use it as a guide for when you should start wrapping up.

4) Be punctual, and ready to go at the CORRECT time.

Know who is calling whom, and how. if there is an alternate number, or contact method, have it handy. The first few minutes of most online interviews are lost to making sure everyone can hear, see and respond. Be the early bird, and know the time zone. Most of Alaska is one hour behind the West Coast, four hours behind Eastern. Some districts in far western Alaska are on the same time zone as Hawaii. No matter where you are, make sure you are aware of what time it is at the other end. Sometimes, in fact, the person you are talking with may be from Alaska, but could be on the road in Michigan or Ohio at job fairs in a totally different time zone. So, know the time zone you are connecting with, whether or not they use Daylight Savings time (some states don't), and how to figure it out. If it is international, know what DAY it is at both I've had candidates miss interviews because of that darn dateline.

Here is a useful site for tracking the times in multiple locations:

5) Try to learn enough about the district to ask relevant questions.

Not really a virtual interview thing, but an Alaska thing. You should know if the district is rural / remote or road system, some basics about their schools and the culture and geography of the area...if you have the chance. Relevant questions let the interviewer know you are serious and have done some homework. Never hurts. Good source for basics is the ATP main website, and then drive your search engine of choice around a bit.

ATP Starter Links:

About Alaska:

Teaching in Alaska:

Alaska School Districts:

Hope these help, but they are just my opinion. Your mileage may vary.
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Re: Digital Interview-What to Expect?

Postby Bushteachers » Thu Jan 23, 2020 6:29 pm

Oh boy. Our first interview with a district happened while we were on vacation in rural Puerto Rico. We were contacted within an hour for an interview. Wife teaches math, and I was applying for elementary and sped stuff. I applied for a Village and my wife applied for another village. We had no idea. We lost connection multiple times in our almost two hour interview and we had a 1 1/2 year daughter with us. Did I mention we were on vacation? It worked out. They offered us a job, after finding out if there was reliable childcare for us (ended up not being, and we had to bring an au pair out or second and third year).

When we interviewed with the Hub location we asked about Skype and the principal just said nope. He’d just do a phone interview. He wasn’t impressed with rural Alaska internet connection. It kind of sucks.

Treat it just like you would a regular interview. Be prepared. Ask if they have questions to send you. When I interviewed with one of the big 5, they sent me a list of questions ahead of time. That was nice. Ask about their SPeD model. It’s important. Make sure you can teach in their model.
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